Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Editorial: Past repeats itself in our news items

Delving into the depths of the past, we present to you for the 20th time our annual Pioneer Edition of The Donley County Leader, included in this week’s Enterprise.

This special section has become a favorite of our readers and advertisers and is certainly a favorite of your editor. For a lover of history, it is easy to become lost in the archives as one story leads to another or the hunt to identify a mystery photo becomes consuming.

It has always struck me as remarkable the ways history repeats itself. Looking back, the current news of the day often bears striking resemblance to the news of yesteryear.

Roger Estlack, Editor

Roger Estlack, Editor

One of the first articles that emerged as we prepared for this year’s Leader, was an early 20th century story about street improvements – presumably just grading – that was being done by the city. The work met with great approval from the people of the day… but unfortunately funds had run out to go any further. The story of our lives.

That story didn’t make the cut for this edition. But others did.

In trying to learn more about a photo of the Pastime Theatre, we ran across a topic in 1935 that seemed just as relevant today as it was eight decades ago… an effort to light what we now know as Bronco Stadium. There was a series of articles building up the idea of lighting the football field, the effort to raise funds for the project, and then ultimately the lighting of the field. Unfortunately for the old Bronchos, the first lighted game – which should have resulted in greater “athleticism” in the cooler night temperatures – ended up in our first loss of the year to the visiting Shamrock team.

It was interesting also that eight light poles were installed in 1935. And from a story we ran earlier this month, six light poles were installed in the 1970s and were replaced with just four light poles this year. Forty years hence, will Bronco Stadium be lit by just two light poles or perhaps a hovering drone that bathes the entire field in artificial sunlight?

We also recently ran a story about commissioners taking on the job of trimming trees on the courthouse lawn. County Judge John Howard told your editor that the county felt the work was necessary because there were dead limbs that could fall and hurt someone. Compare that then to the 1935 article in which my great grandfather called on the county to trim the deadwood from the courthouse trees because a visiting editor had his face lacerated by a dead limb on the courthouse square.

Speaking of family connections, your editor sometimes gets hung up on bits of trivia that may not mean much to the general public but is of high interest to him. This year, we uncovered the obituary of my great, great grandmother, Calista Miller Estlack, who died in 1933 at the age of 74. I posted on my personal Facebook page that article detailing the life of this hearty pioneer woman who did her part to settle the West. And that set off a virtually viral reaction among my cousins and resulted in the exchanging of photos of our ancestor that some of us had never seen.

All this makes me wonder what Ben or Ella or their grandkids might find fascinating after I am long laid to rest in Citizens Cemetery. Will they be as fascinated with our lives as we are of those who came before us? Will they find interest in our weekly struggles and victories?

More importantly, I wonder if our generation is upholding the words of former Mayor W.H. Patrick who called on his fellow citizens in 1938 to “rededicate our lives and talents – our all – to the perpetuity of the pioneer spirit in our beloved land of the Southwest,” and if we are properly passing that determination and those virtues on to our children.

Donley County folks come from hearty stock and we are proud to take this moment to remember those old pioneers who came before us. Let us honor them by continuing to work to improve this place we call home.

We hope you enjoy this year’s Donley County Leader, and we wish you all a very glorious Independence Day.


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